Almost 300,000 people eligible to vote for next federal Liberal leader

OTTAWA – Almost 300,000 members and supporters have signed up to choose the next leader of the federal Liberal party.

Party president Mike Crawley says 294,002 people are eligible to vote.

Most are believed to have taken advantage of the party’s new supporter class to sign up for free, although the party has provided no breakdown.

More than half the eligible voters are thought to be backing front-runner Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s team initially claimed it had signed up 150,000 people but insiders now say the number is closer to 170,000.

All members and supporters will have to register to vote over the next two weeks, however, in order to be able to cast ballots during the week of April 6-14.

By comparison, just over 130,000 joined the NDP last year to take part in that party’s leadership contest; fewer than half ultimately cast ballots.